Ars Technica claims Best Buy — which owns Future Shop — wants to fire 20 percent of
its customers
. Some of those customers buy products, cash in on rebates, return the products for refund, then buy them later, at discounted prices. Still others buy discounted loss leaders to resell on eBay.

I’m surprised this hasn’t been widely covered in the media before. In the past, I’ve picked up discounted software that still qualifies for a rebate. In fact, on one occasion, the rebate was $15 and I only paid $5 for the software. I actually earned $10 by buying the software and applying for a rebate. I remember thinking that I should buy up all the stock and sell it on eBay. However, seeing just a few copies on the shelf, I couldn’t be bothered. Apparently, some people can.

Customers who focus on loss leaders and make frequent returns cost companies money. By integrating point-of-sale systems with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, companies can identify “bad” customers, then exclude them from marketing promotions. Companies can instead offer loss leaders, coupons, rebates and other goodies to high-value customers. By focusing on the lifetime value of customers — instead of simply making a sale — companies can increase revenues from their best customers and fire the customers who cost them money.

(c) 2004 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.